After months of cold, dreariness, premature darkness, and an absence of outdoor activity, the seventh annual Burnhearts Mitten Fest is just days away. For eight hours (noon to 8 p.m.) on Saturday, February 2, portions of Potter and Logan avenues flanking the Bay View bar will be blocked off to host a single-day break from winter’s cold, cruel grasp. There will be live music. There’s going to be delicious craft beer rarities and a sea of brandy drinks. There will be food, philanthropy, and (hopefully) an overwhelming aura of positive vibes and togetherness expressed through our shared defiance of mother nature that’s shown partying outside during nature’s last full month.
Though the young event has quickly become Milwaukee’s favorite winter celebration, some of you might not know much about Mitten Fest. Others have surely attended, but might not be aware of what to expect this time around. Fear not, citizen. Milwaukee Record—an official Mitten Fest media sponsor—has assembled a guide of everything you need to know about Burnhearts Mitten Fest 2019.
Where can I escape the cold?
With the word “Mitten” being in the name and all, you should prepare for cold conditions. Dress appropriately. Currently, the forecast calls for a high of 37 degrees on Saturday. There will be a few propane heaters scattered around, but that’s about it. If you need to thaw out, Burnhearts will be open for business as usual. And even though Mitten Fest is Burnhearts’ baby, the bar’s owner and Mitten Fest organizer William Seidel considers the event to be a Bay View celebration, and he urges people to visit other neighborhood establishments throughout the day.
“We encourage attendees to patronize other Bay View businesses,” Seidel told us before a previous installment. “It’s a good day for our community as a whole. We only ask that patrons understand that it is an unusually busy day for all of the bars and restaurants and to please be patient and nice to the employees of these businesses.”
Who’s playing again?
As always, Mitten Fest organizers brought in something for almost everyone. Whether you time your visit to catch your favorite act or you stay all day and let the eclectic musical mix serve as your celebratory soundtrack, you’re going to leave happy.
How does Abby Jeanne follow up a year that included a four-show “Fire In February” residency, a WMSE Record Store Day 7-inch, a flurry of high-profile festival gigs, a well-deserved $20,000 Backline grant, a successful “Cosmic Weekend” in her honor, and an awesome holiday single? Why, with a new album and a release show at Turner Hall! But there’s more! A month after putting her long-awaited Music Box Dancer out into the world, the owner of Milwaukee’s best voice continues what’s sure to be another big year by headlining Mitten Fest.
Vincent Van Great and his Ninja Sauce backing band return to their neighborhood roughly six months after playing our stage at Bay View Bash. While the conditions outside are drastically different, you can expect the same caliber performance from the inimitable singer, rapper, producer, and virtuoso.
Roughly a year removed from releasing Bored Immortals, Surgeons In Heat will warm up Potter Avenue with their timeless, laid back, and summer-suited power-pop stylings. If there’s a Milwaukee band more suited to enjoy while bundled up and drinking a brandy old fashioned in February, we haven’t heard them.
Cashfire Sunset is new on the scene, but the hazy rock outfit is not to be missed. Show up early to catch the young project and to get a preview of material from the band’s forthcoming album, Get The Starts.
Fresh off an unforgettable performance at the latest Local Coverage benefit, Nickel&Rose will return to playing their own material (and who knows, maybe a Paper Holland cover or public domain song thrown in there) and will open Mitten Fest in grand fashion. The folk duo plays out consistently in Milwaukee and throughout the world, but it’s safe to say this is the first time Nickel&Rose have performed at an outdoor winter festival.
As always, local treasure Chris Schulist will DJ between acts.
What am I drinking?
Burnhearts will serve rare and limited beers from their pals at Central Waters and Founders (with tappings staggered throughout the day), Vander Mill’s “Totally Roasted” hard cider on draft, barrel old fashioneds, Korbel and Tullamore Dew & Valentine Coffee “Irish Dream,” and ginger brandy. If craft brews and brown liquor aren’t your bag, you’ll also be able to procure Tito’s vodka outside or find a full bar inside. But honestly, this is like beer nerd Christmas. Here’s an exclusive first full look at what will be on tap.
Founders Brewing (Beer Bar on Potter Ave., facing West)
Solid Gold (on all festival)
Founders Brewing (Beer Bar on Logan Ave.)
All Day IPA (on all festival)
Central Waters Brewing (Beer Bar on Potter Ave., facing East)
Honey Blonde (on all festival)
Irish Dream Stout
Brandyland Old Fashioned
Maple Barrel Stout
Rye Barrel Chocolate Porter
Bourbon Barrel Cherry
Bourbon Barrel Scotch
Bourbon Barrel Barleywine
Central Waters Brewing (Beer Bar on Logan Ave.)
HHG (on all festival)
But carry-ins are allowed, right?
Absolutely not. If you bring in your own booze, not only would you be risking a fine, you’d also be threatening the continuation of Mitten Fest itself. As dramatic as it sounds, it could take as little as a few empty Busch Light cans on someone’s lawn to risk casting this overwhelmingly positive event in a negative light. C’mon, people! There’s a bunch of great (and rare!) craft beer on hand, brandy cocktails, and 10 bars within walking distance. Don’t be a dick.
Will there be anything to eat?
Yep! Iron Grate, Lumpia City, Fox Fire, Drift, and Honeypie (bakery) will be around to sell food on-site. Otherwise, if you wish to break away for a bite, Vanguard is a short walk away, as are Hi-Fi, Hué, Honeypie, Crafty Cow, Hot Head Fried Chicken, Hungry Sumo Sushi Bar, and a number of other excellent restaurants.
How does this benefit charity again?
Beyond being a means of celebration and cause for local businesses to have a major single-day boom during a typically slow season, there’s also a beneficial bent to Mitten Fest. Previous installments have brought in considerable donations of clothing, food, and cash to Hunger Task Force. Compost Crusader will also be on site to help limit waste.
Is there anything else I should know?
Now that you mention it, yeah, there are few more things worth noting. All day Saturday, nearby Rush-Mor Records will be raising funds for a Bay View church that has a winter warming room for the homeless. The longstanding record retailer will sell a limited edition thermal shirt during Mitten Fest and donate all proceeds from shirt sales.
Once Mitten Fest is officially through, Cactus Club will keep the fun going with an awesome after party that features The Cheetahs, Eroders, Platinum Boys, Easy Habits, and Saebra & Carlyle. If you still have any engergy left after a long, boozy day outside, this is the place to be.
Now that you know everything you need to about Mitten Fest, you should be ready to bundle up, get off the internet, and go outside this weekend, Milwaukee!